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There is a crime that is occurring thousands of times every day in businesses and corporations. It tarnishes the image of city, county, state and federal agencies and angers taxpayers. It is a crime against the prosperity, profitability and sustainability of the organization and the city, county, state and country in which it occurs.
It is not something that takes place in a short time frame. It occurs gradually over days, weeks, months, years and careers. It begins when there is a DOA, (Death Of Accountability). It takes place when bosses are allowed to remain in positions that were intended for Leaders. What is it? It is the slow torture and murder of a leader.
We want to take you through this criminal and totally irresponsible and uncaring process. To get the full effect, we want it to happen to you. We want you to experience this tragedy. Maybe if you have the opportunity, you will never allow this to happen or draw a line in the sand and correct it for future generations of Leaders starting today.
In our example, your name is Avery. This is a gender neutral name because the slow torture and murder of a leader does not discriminate against either gender. It occurs to both and is carried out by both genders. It also has no racial or age boundaries. No one is safe.
Avery, you have just been promoted to Level 1. You are excited because you believe you can make a difference. You believe you have so much to share and someone at Level 2 or above felt the same way. You report to work on your first day as a Level 1 and your Level 2 introduces you to your team and allows you to share your background. Level 2 is expecting great things from you. Level 2 then introduces you to another Level 1. The other Level 1 will “show you the ropes” for a few days before you are allowed to go forth and lead…or boss. This will be determined later.
Once you have spent a few days with the other Level 1, they feel you are ready to “go it on your own”. You think this is strange because Level 1 has no vested interest in your success. In fact, from what you know about the compensation plan, you will be competing with that Level 1 for a bonus that is awarded each year. Never mind, it’s too early to be thinking of that. The torture begins.
You begin your new role as Level 1. You consider yourself a Level 1 Leader but it’s also too early to make that determination. You begin the daily role of TDP (Task Distribution Person) and putting out fires. You see some things that could change and possibly provide better customer service and reduce the number of daily fires. You run these ideas by the other Level 1 and are told that is not the way things were done in the past. They recommend not changing procedures. The torture continues.
You contact your Level 2 and run the ideas by them. They request the ideas in writing for consideration. (You don’t know it now but “please submit them in writing” is the same as “no”, “you’ll never hear from these ideas again” or “we are not changing any procedures”.) The torture continues.
You then begin to run into problems with three team members on absence, quality and productivity. You have been told by Level 2 to follow the lead of the other Level 1. You request their guidance. You are advised to “have a talk with them”. When you ask about documenting the discussion, the other Level 1 says there is no need to create that extra work. They comment that the employees have all been there over 20 years and laughs. “What are you going to do, fire them for poor quality, productivity or attendance?” You are advised to go with the flow and not create any waves. The torture continues.
You are not satisfied with this answer so you contact your Level 2. To your surprise, you are given basically the same answer. Then you remember; the other Level 1 was trained by your Level 2. This is very abnormal. Your former Level 1 was very quick to address poor performers.
A few months pass and you have had little or no guidance from your Level 2. You go by their office but they are rarely in. In fact, in your daily travels around the city doing your job, you regularly see the vehicle of your Level 2 at coffee shops, their home and at the local golf course during the work day. Many times the vehicle of the other Level 1 is there also. You care. You still want to be a leader so you choose not to join them but the torture continues.
You then contact your Level 2 about some Leadership Courses you would like to attend. You have also found some for your team members that would assist them in being more successful in their jobs. You are informed that there is no money in the budget for training or employee development. It is viewed as an expense with absolutely no return on investment. You are informed that the best training is to just do your job and you will get better. The torture continues.
You are not satisfied with this answer so you begin to read books on leadership. You even take a vacation day to attend a seminar and pay for it yourself. You are hungry for growth and development but have learned it will not come from your Level 2. You care. You still want to be a leader.
You have been a Level 1 for months now. Your Level 2 has not sat down with you one-on-one and discussed any of these items with you; their expectations, the visions of the company, the company culture, your progress, where improvement is needed, how to develop others, your ideas for the business or praise. You get the group e-mail every once in awhile and there are infrequent team meetings but you have absolutely no idea how you are doing or if you are doing the right things. You care. You still want to be a leader but the torture continues.
One of your hourly team members requests a Friday afternoon off but has exhausted their vacation. They request to take the afternoon off, be shown working and work an extra hour without pay on four days next week. You deny this request because this was not allowed in your former group because of the Fair Labor Standards Act. You offer unpaid time but the team member refuses. You are informed by the team member that this was a common practice by your predecessor. You still decline the request. Unknown to you, the team member contacts your Level 2 about the request. You are contacted by your Level 2 and instructed to allow the paid time off to be made up next week. You request an explanation but you are informed that this has been allowed for years. The torture continues.
You are uncomfortable with your results but have no idea how to address the poor performers. You look in their personnel files for trends or history but there is none. In fact, there is not one documented Performance Improvement Plan or level of discipline in any of the ten personnel files of your team. You wonder; how does it change? You also know the Level 1 you replaced was promoted to Level 2. Surely they did something right but you are unable to find it in the personnel files. It certainly didn’t involve employee development. You care. You still want to be a leader but the torture continues.
While in the personnel files, you also discover something very unusual. Every annual review was identical, word for word. Every employee was rated excellent. Even though you have only been there a few months, it was obvious every team member in your crew was NOT excellent. They were certainly not the same in quality, quantity, safety or attendance. You notice the signature of your predecessor and of your current Level 2 on each annual review. You assume this must be what is expected. It is obviously tolerated and your predecessor was promoted to Level 2. The torture continues.
You want to see just how important communication is in your company. You hand each of your 10 team members an index card. On it is a question; “Not counting an annual appraisal, how long has it been since your manager sat down with you one-on-one and discussed any of the following items with you; expectations, visions of the company, company culture, your progress, improvement needed, your ideas for the business or praise?” You don’t ask for names, just the answer. Knowing the environment you came from, the answers astound you. They range from years to never. Your predecessor was in this job for four years and then promoted. The index cards point to no one-on-one dialogs with team members. There is absolutely no documentation of any performance improvement plans or discipline, you inherited horrible results and they were promoted.
You then begin to ask yourself; is accountability, communication, profitability and sustainability really that important when they are never discussed. Are rubber stamped annual reviews and lack of team development acceptable? Are promotions based on results and improvement or do I just need to be part of the right clique?
It may occur here or it may take a few more months but Avery, unless you are extremely motivated and persistent or change Level 2’s, your opportunity to be a Level 1 and above Leader has just been murdered. It was murdered in cold blood by a lack of Leadership and accountability. In a position intended for a Leader stands a boss.
Sadly, you will probably remain a boss. You may even be promoted to a Level 2 or above boss but until you fall under the leadership, guidance or mentorship of a true Leader, your future as a Leader has been murdered right before your eyes. You fought valiantly but the odds were against you.
The dreams, goals and aspirations you had of making significant changes have turned to nothing more than a life of mediocrity and tolerance. You will continue to report to work, distribute tasks and solve problems for as long as you remain a boss. You will improvise instead of improve daily. I hate this for your organization because you were capable of so much more if given the proper guidance and held accountable.
Now Avery, excuse me but I want to have a word with your hierarchy.
Level 2 through 3, 4, 5, 6 or however high you go; Each one of you has set behind your desk and claimed to be Pro-Leader and yet every one of you allowed Avery to have a choice; the choice of least resistance, the choice to be a boss instead of becoming a leader. Avery should have never been afforded this opportunity. Avery dreamed of leaving a legacy as a Leader, not just being a boss. You terminated that.
Each one of you had a hand in the slow torture and murder of this leader. Shame on you! Avery could have been the one to turn an organization, city, county, state or country around. Avery could have created or saved thousands of jobs, impacted millions of lives. Thanks to your lack of leadership and accountability; it appears this will not occur. You have collectedly and slowly, without shame tortured and murdered a Leader and left a boss in its place.
But wait! Even though I am big on personal responsibility, this may not totally be your fault. You are a product of your raising. The fact that someone murdered Avery’s life as a Leader doesn’t mean your hierarchy is full of bosses. There must be a Leader somewhere. It could be you. There is more great news. If you choose to correct this huge injustice, the statute of limitations for this crime just ended.
Our quest is to find the person that can draw the line in the sand and make the change to a Pro-Leader, Anti-boss organization. We are looking for the person to restore total accountability for results, profitability and sustainability to your organization. It will not occur overnight but neither did the slow torture and murder of Avery’s life as a Leader. It may mean a total culture change but it can occur. It will be well worth it and can become a major part of your legacy.
Wouldn’t it be great to someday be able to look behind you and see a long trail of Leaders instead of bosses? It’s never too late. With your assistance and accountability, we can help. E-mail us for an appointment to discuss.
What are some other ways that Leaders are tortured and murdered? What are some of the boss mentalities you can think of? We would love to hear more. Avery probably has a brother or sister that wants to be a leader also.
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